Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer

by Victoria Testa

Blood Wounds really tests the definition of a family. Willa Coffey knows how lucky she is. Her family loves and cares for her. Although her family isn’t her flesh and blood, they look after one another. Yes, Willa’s family is lucky. They are happy.

Then, tragedy strikes. The unthinkable happens. Murder. Betrayal. Hatred. Tears. Pain. As these problems begin to consume Willa’s life, she can’t help wondering: Is this really a happy family?

Admittedly, Blood Wounds took some warming up to. I liked the characters, and the story was engaging, but I felt like something was missing. Thankfully, it wasn’t missing for long, and I found exactly what I was looking for around page 100: the heart. I was looking for the very real, very raw emotions that I would experience in this situation. And when I found it, I realized just how beautiful Blood Wounds really is.

Maybe, I can attribute my hesitance to Susan Beth Pheffer’s writing style. Description is used sparingly, and, at first glance, I can’t say I was drawn into Willa’s narration. However, the dialogue shines. That is where you learn the most about the characters. That is where you learn to love them. And, although it isn’t a style I’m used to, it is very effective. Actually, the superiority of the dialogue contributes to how realistic this novel feels. In real life, we don’t waste countless paragraphs taking in our surroundings or describing someone’s hairstyle, because, in real life, what a person says is often the most important thing about them.

Although we come from completely different circumstances, I was shocked and pleased to find how much I identified with Willa. She is one of the most genuine characters I have read in a while. Everything about her is beautifully real. She isn’t always sure of everything in her life. She isn’t a straight A student. She isn’t always perfect. Willa confronts her demons, and not everything has a happy ending. But very few real life traumas do. At the end of Blood Wounds, Willa becomes more than a character. She becomes a friend. (Also, I love her name and the fact that she loves to sing!!)

Blood Wounds proves that a family is so much more than your blood relatives. A family is a group of people, who, no matter what happens, will always have your back. They help you when you need them most, but back off when you ask them to. They give you advice and don’t get offended if you choose another path. But, most importantly, a family loves you unconditionally and with no questions asked. If you are lucky enough to have that kind of love in your life, then you are lucky enough.


Victoria Testa lives in New York City but is a beach bum at heart. When not writing or reading, she can be found surfing, swimming, and singing!

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